Food is always fun to talk about. From nostalgic and traditional dishes, to the literal flash in the pan, food connects us. Through the years, in feast or famine, humans have found ways to stretch a meal, overindulge, and create art and health with a plate. Here are a few of the food trends we saw in 2017, what I expect to stick around, and what I predict for 2018.
Detroit Style Pizza – Dead in the water.
Pizza being my first true love, I find it difficult to ever talk smack. Instead, I’ll talk trash. This slice never found relevance Omaha. It’s possible that with competition like the authentic New York crusts at Noli, the gluttonous depth of Pudgy’s deep dish, Virtuoso’s family of followers, and the local sourcing and ethical practices celebrated by Omaha’s finest parlors, Motor City didn’t have a slice to stand on.
Alternative Oils – Not Going Anywhere
Housewives have happily deep fried dinner in Canola oil for generations, but with the food revolution taking a closer look at harvesting practices, sustainability, and the effects of certain fats on the health of the human heart, “vegetable” oils are out. While this generation has learned well that fat is not a four-letter word, they are careful to find sustainable and healthy sources. Avocado, coconut, and hemp oils are becoming the go-to for fats. From frying to facials, healthy oils are running the market.
Our experience of Asian food is typically small bites and light meals, but 2017 was all about embracing Asian comfort foods. Shareable plates of hearty “dude food”, richer sauces, and ramen found a solid home in Omaha. Poke Bowls became an artform. This trend has only wetted the appetite for more, and I see more indulgent ethnic on the horizon.
2017 saw the birth, and merciful death, of Unicorn everything. Pink, purple, blue and green layered foods from donuts to drinks left a too-sweet taste in our mouth. While everyone was excited to post photos of their Unicorn Starbucks Frap, one sip and this trend went down the drain.
The smoothie bowl became a “clean eater” favorite this year. Rather than drinking your meal replacement smoothie, why not spoon it like a cold soup? Mimic the act of actually eating. Breakfasts of blended kale, berries, and chia seeds dominated Instagram, and while they are a bit gimmicky and I expect smoothies to return to glasses soon, it was a reasonable compromise.
Everything But Pasta
Grain is so 3 years ago. You can no longer just expect your pasta to be made of wheat. Lentils, quinoa, spirulina, or spirulized vegetables have taken the place of standard pasta. With the rise in gluten-sensitive immune disorder diagnoses like Hashimoto’s and Celiac, gluten free isn’t going away. That means that bigger names are embracing the issue and making wheat free more delicious every day. Your favorite restaurants are already offering pastas made of almond, coconut, or rice flours. Expect recipes to become more inventive, and pasta dishes to become more delicious and less inflammatory. That sounded sexier in my head.
If humane practices and sustainable sourcing are not your favorite, 2018 is going to suck for you. Over the last several years, Farm to Fork has become less of a fashionable thing to do, and more standard practice. Expect more protests at both Hormel and Tyson this year, as the treatment of both animals and factory workers are abysmal. Both have been making political moves to appear as though they are cleaning up their act, but pressure is on the consumer to determine whether the lower prices of unsafe practices are worth the cost.Butchers beware, more informed clients mean that you will be having more conversations over that counter in 2018. The Live Meat Market, though quiet, appears to be moving forward. Ethical consumption. It’s a thing.
The shy, busy, or lazy folks who were once doomed to a life of pizza delivery or greasy take-out has taken a turn. With sites like Grub Hub, Skip The Dishes, Fast Guys, and even Facebook delivering from just about anywhere, fine dining in your pajamas is the go-to for everyone from the stressed home-business owner to the videogame night in crew. Expect more options in 2018, as more restaurants open their menu to the idea and more businesses scramble to race it to you.
While older than Methuselah, turmeric has only just been discovered by Millennials. Turmeric fries, omelets, and straight capsules are being consumed in massive quantities. The health benefits of the inexpensive spice are practically uncountable, and the flavor lends itself to all manner of recipes. From Turmeric and honey milk to suppress a cough, to brightening up your favorite Mediterranean dish, turmeric should have a home in your kitchen.
Waste is Out
There was a time when abundance meant having more than you need. A new generation is viewing abundance as “plenty for everyone”. Waste is a turn off. Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue is one of many local organizations seeing to it that abundance is reaching further. Collecting food from restaurants, grocery stores, and farms before it adds to the devastation in landfills, and sending it to food banks, soup kitchens, and places like Table Grace Cafe is one important step in treating both the hunger and the waste that have run rampant in our community for far too long.
Look for more opportunities in the new year. Volunteer with food rescues, buy less and buy local. Write your policy makers. The price of food will continue to rise, even while food comprises 20% of the waste in landfills. This makes pulling yourself out of poverty an increasingly unreachable dream for many, and one in five children in our community go to bed hungry. 2018 will see big moves by a lot of little voices. Make yours heard.
I see a lot of space opening up in the Flexitarian style of eating. Plant based proteins and faux foods are starting to gain a good amount of traction. Insect based proteins have been around for centuries, but are beginning to find a market among millennials.
2017 was huge for shining a light on cultural appropriation, which is opening the conversation and the door to more traditional foods. Tex Mex will always have a place at the table, but now authentic ethnic will be taking the lead.
Molecular gastronomy was really hot for a while, but I see trends moving back toward simpler times. Instead of multiple ingredient dishes, powders, and liquid nitrogen, expect to actually taste your meal. I anticipate egg yolk on everything.
Did we leave any out? Tell us your favorite 2017 trends and your 2018 predictions by emailing Sara@TheReader.Com.